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Statin therapy seems to improve outcomes after radiation therapy for high-risk patients

Posted Mar 23 2011 12:00am

According to data just published in the March issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology•Biology•Physics, patients diagnosed with high-risk prostate cancer who take statins while receiving radiation therapy have a better prognosis than patients treated with radiotherapy who don’t take statins.

Kollmeier et al. have reported data from a retrospective analysis of data from 1,711 men with clinically localized prostate cancer (clinical stage T1-T3), all of whom were treated with conformal radiation therapy to a median dose of 81 Gy at a single institution between 1995 and 2007. Of these 1,711 men, data on their pre-radiation medications were available for the vast majority (n = 1,681). Slightly more than half of the patients (947/1,711 or 55.3 percent) received a short-course of neoadjuvant and concurrent androgen-deprivation therapy (ADT) in concert with their radiation therapy.

Here are the key results of the analysis:

  • 382/1,681 patients (2.7 percent) were taking a statin medication at diagnosis and throughout their radiation treatment.
  • The average (median) follow-up was 5.9 years.
  • For the men taking statin therapy
  • For the men not taking statin therapy
  • Statin use (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.69), low-risk disease, and use of ADT were all associated with improved bPFS.
  • Among the men taking statins, only high-risk patients showed improvement in bPFS (HR = 0.52).
  • Statin use was not associated with improved distant metastasis-free survival.
  • By contrast, lower group and use of ADT were both associated with improved distant metastasis-free survival.

Dr. Michael Zelefsay, the senior author of the study, is quoted as follows in a media release from the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO):

“In our retrospective study, we have demonstrated that statin use during radiotherapy is associated with improved biochemical tumor control among high-risk patients. This study, along with other emerging studies, strongly suggests that statin use improves outcomes in patients treated with definitive radiation therapy.”

The authors also suggest that statins not only have anticancer activity but that they may act as radiosensitizers when used in conjunction with external beam radiation therapy for the treatment of prostate cancer.

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